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Keyword Lists - Their Proper Care And Feeding

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George PeirsonOne of your most important marketing assets is your Keyword List. But are you giving your Keyword List the attention it deserves? Is your Keyword List getting a little shaggy around the edges? Are your keywords becoming old and out of date? Is your Keyword List not behaving at its best, possibly due to neglect?

To properly care for your Keyword List you need to understand its different needs and functions. We can divide the list into several broad categories.

1) Master Keyword List – this list has all the keywords that you can come up with for your particular need. All other lists are taken from this Master List.

2) Pay-Per-Click List – this is a subset of the Master List and will vary depending on how you are using PPC and which search engines you are buying positions in.

3) Tag List – this subset of the Master List helps you fill in those Meta Tag fields. Although many search engines are not currently paying much attention to Meta Tags, that could change at any time and the search engines will not let us know if or when they begin watching Meta Tags again. So the safe bet is to still keep these tags properly populated.

4) Web Site List – this is another subset of the Master List and is more targeted than the PPC list. This list also helps you write powerful content on your site. And don’t forget to refer to this list when setting up the Alt tags for your images (you are using Alt tags aren’t you?).

5) Email List – Are you using keywords in your email? You should be. Keywords are not only used to help people find your site in search engines, but they are words people are actively searching for. Your marketing should be addressing their needs, and your keyword list shows you what they are looking for. Just like creating copy on a web page, use the keyword list to target your email campaigns as well.

So how do you go about creating the Master Keyword list? You first have to decide what you need from your keywords. Most likely you will have a product or service that will dictate the broad category for the list. As an example I will use Nikon Camera as my starting point. Maybe I have a site that specializes in information about Nikons, or I have a store that sells Nikon Cameras, or maybe I sell software that would complement a Nikon Camera. These questions and more will begin to focus your keyword search.

Start by building a basic list using this approach, you don’t need to capitalize, leave everything lowercase.

nikon, nikon camera, nikon information, nikon sales, nikon software

Put down the basic keywords that spring into your head when thinking about your subject. This does not need to be an exhaustive list, just a starting point.

We now need to expand on this list by using tools freely available on the internet. My personal favorite is on in their Resource Center. They have a valuable little tool called the Keyword Selector Tool. This tool will give you a list of keyword searches on Overture over a one month period. Simply type in your keyword and hit the button. You will get a list of keywords including the keyword you typed in and the number of searches performed on the keyword.

A search for “Nikon” came back with 100 keyword possibilities. Depending on your original keyword search you may have to clean this list up a bit before using it. For instance one of the keywords was “Nikon rifle scopes”, not what I need so I will delete that one. I usually copy the information from this web page and paste it into an Excel spreadsheet where I can manipulate it as I like. Each month you may get a different set of keywords on Overture, so don’t just do this one time and forget it. Keep on checking back to add more keywords to your list.

Another valuable tool is over on Google. (
You can also find this tool in the Tools section of Google Adwords. This is used like the Overture tool, simply type in your keyword and click on Get More Keywords. This search gave me 225 possible keywords, many of which I will clean out. A nice feature of the Adwords tool is that it allows you to download the list as a CSV file for use in Excel or another program.

There are many other sources for keyword lists. A good place to start is on Search Engine Watch at

Don’t forget specialized sites like eBay. They have a banner ad program named eBay Keywords where you can find suggestions for keywords to use with banner ads on eBay.

And finally pay attention to the log files for your web site. You will have a list of searches people used to find your site. This is a very targeted list of keywords that were actually successful in driving traffic to your site.

Now that you have a huge list of keywords you are ready to create your Master Keyword List. Place all these keywords into a spreadsheet and clean out the inappropriate keywords (like “Nikon Binoculars”). Then arrange in order from most relevant to least relevant.

You need to weed this Master List down for your PPC campaign. You may find that the keywords near the top of your list are the most expensive and that the ones in the middle may have a better cost to sales ratio. But the more keywords you can use on PPC, the broader your exposure.

The top 25 should work well for your Meta Tag list. Depending on your needs you may need to remove duplicate words. Try to limit any individual word to 5 uses or less (example: don’t use “nikon” more than 5 times).

The top 10 keywords are your sales words for your web site and email campaigns since these are the most tightly focused keywords in the list.

Don’t forget that the needs of your list will be changing as the market place shifts. Every month or so do a new search for keywords to keep your keyword list up to date. Trim out the words that are either no longer appropriate or effective. Be sure to keep an eye on your log files. Keep your sub-lists current. And give your Keyword List the care and attention it needs to live a long and active life.

And finally, if only 4 people purchase some training off of my site due to the keywords in this article I can finally get that Nikon Camera that I have been wanting.

About the Author: George Peirson is President of How To Gurus. He is the author of over 30 multimedia based tutorial training titles. To see training and other articles by George Peirson visit How To Gurus Article copyright 2006 George Peirson.

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